Former Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight queen Miesha Tate has a pick for the UFC 265 co-main event title fight between Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena. And not surprisingly it's a selection based on some heartfelt rooting interest.
Tate, 35, makes her return to the Octagon at UFC Vegas 31, after a five-year retirement from the sport. In interviews during the lead-up to Saturday night in the UFC Apex, "Cupcake" has explained her expectation to fight her way back into the same contender position she had when she left. Reaching that goal could end up in a revenge rematch with current bantamweight, and featherweight, champion Nunes. The same woman she lost the title to at UFC 200 in 2016, and Nunes has held the title ever since.
Miesha Tate hoping Pena beats Nunes at UFC 265
However, the current two-division champion has a defense in the near future against Ultimate Fighter season 18 winner Pena. Tate coached the 31-year-old during that edition of the long-running series, and the two have been friends ever since. That's why, despite Pena being a sizable underdog heading into her title opportunity, Tate is picking Pena to be victorious. Because as she recently told MMAFighting, expecting defeat for a friend just isn't an option, even if it ruins her own plans.
“That’s what I want for myself [a rematch against Nunes], but I think let’s cross that bridge when we get there,” Tate said. “I genuinely want Julianna to get this fight and I want her to win. I will be nothing but happy for her if she’s able to do that. There’s no part of me that wishes for her not to do this so I can have this fairytale storybook ending.
“What will be, will be. It doesn’t matter. I will get there eventually to the championship. I think if Julianna wins they’re going to do an immediate rematch, which is great. She has a great style, I can’t say that enough. Those cornfed folk up in Washington, we’ve just got some kind of tough about us. I’m excited for her and I want her to do it. But if she doesn’t do it, I believe I will.”
UFC 265 takes place on August 7, inside Houston's Toyota Center. Nunes is a massive -800 betting underdog on several oddsmakers services currently.
UFC Vegas 31 emanates from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 17. The prelims kick off at 7 pm ET, with the main card following at 10 pm ET. Both portions of the event will air on ESPN and ESPN+.